I’ve recently joined a monthly networking group as part of a strategy to grow my business. One of the great things this group offers is regular training opportunities – workshops of a couple of hours in length on a range of topics. Specifically, the founder runs a workshop on networking which I went along to earlier in the summer.
It was a great workshop full of helpful pointers and tips about how to get the most of my membership and what it means to network successfully. So much of the content resonated with me and in fact, inspired me to write a blog post on the art of networking.
A large part of my business entails me not only working one on one with individuals who are looking to use social media in their business, but I also deliver presentations. Mainly around the benefits of social media, but also about etiquette and positioning yourself online.
One of the most common questions or concerns that holds people back from even getting started on social media is ‘what do I do when I’m there?’ ‘What do I say?’ ‘How do I behave?’
I always like to share this little pearl as a starting point – ‘communicating online is no different to communicating offline.’
I also like to highlight that it’s the platforms we use that are ‘social media’, the act of using them is ‘social networking’ . So, put your best self forward, be polite, be generous, be present. Show up. Sound familiar? (Hopefully yes!)
For the non digital natives out there (Baby Boomers, Generation X), communicating online doesn’t come naturally. And for the millennials amongst us who get the social side it’s still sometimes difficult to see how our Facebook account or Instagram feed cane used to generate business.
There were so many commonalities between the content covered in Philippa’s networking workshop and what I often cover in my mentoring programme and my presentations, that I wanted to share them. I hope that for those wondering about the how’s of what’s of communicating online, this will give you the confidence to go forth, adopt the right behaviours and invest the time in doing social well.
“Business networking is not a numbers game. Being connected to lots of people will not necessarily make you more successful.”
People think more followers, more connections, more page likes, is a success measure by default, and if they don’t have those numbers it’s not working for them or that someone is better than they are. Social media is not a numbers game either. It’s about how you build that community and subsequently how you nurture it. Speak to 2 people as if you were talking to 2000 and you’ll be just fine…
“Having made a great first impression we need to ensure we engage in conversation”
As you begin to gain (more) followers, page likes and connections don’t forget to get to know them and help them to get to know you. Don’t go silent or simply send out your own updates. You would never walk in to a room full of people, shout about your latest offer or business venture and then walk out again (or at least I hope you don’t!)
One of the benefits to networking face to face is the ability to see a group of people regularly, get to know about them and their business and as a result build a trust between you that hopefully leads to referrals on both sides when the need arrises. This can also be done online. yep. it can.
Share pictures of you in your business and working with clients and don’t be afraid to share updates that help to give a sense of who you are outside of work. Hobbies, family life, favourite tv shows. Be aware also of how you ‘talk’ online. Your personality can shine through in the way you write your updates. Don’t forget to listen, reply to and acknowledge comments and conversations in your network too. Something that naturally you would do when networking face to face.
And that’s it! There’s plenty of other elements that make up the art of networking, and if you want to have a chat about it, then I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch or you can tweet me @NlySocial